Expert: Unvaccinated Americans Should Assume They'll Get COVID

The CDC says we’re in a pandemic of the unvaccinated...So why are places with high vaccination rates still concerned?

Expert: Unvaccinated Americans Should Assume They'll Get COVID
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File

The CDC has said this pandemic is slowly turning into one of the unvaccinated. But what’s the situation in places with high vaccination rates? 

To date, the CDC counts  roughly 90 U.S. counties with at least 70% of their 12 and up population fully vaccinated.  In San Francisco, 76% of residents 12 and up are fully vaccinated. But cases trended up. Jumping from 57 cases July 11 to 163 on July 15th -- a 185 percent increase.  

"The risk of COVID has gotten worse in the past several months. So the virus has gotten better at its job in the last few months and your body has not," Dr. Bob Wachter Department of Medicine Chair, University of California San Francisco said.  

Dr. Bob Wachter at UCSF says he’s back to double-masking in stores and says he may skip indoor dining if the trends he’s seeing continue.  

"I think it'd be highly unlikely that any of us makes it through this without either being vaccinated or getting COVID," he said.

There’s also breakthrough cases, when someone who is vaccinated still gets a COVID-19 infection. It’s rare, but it’s happening. In California, the latest data shows about one in every 1,440 vaccinated people is getting COVID. 

What about herd immunity? That’s when enough people are protected because they’ve either already gotten the virus or vaccinated from it.  We’ve heard numbers like 70, 80%, but as the virus changes, so does that threshold.   

"As the virus is twice as contagious, you need a higher level of immunity in order to create herd immunity. So I think 90 percent is a reasonable guess," he said.

Experts say herd immunity is also not an absolute, it's not all or nothing. So in a place like San Francisco, there will be far fewer cases than in a Jackson, Mississippi or Mobile, Alabama. So surges in those places could look a little bit larger-far larger depending on vaccination rates-compared to what a surge might look like here. Lindsey Theis, Newsy, San Francisco.